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4) After the fight.

a. The Negotiations.

It seems logical that the Byzantine emperor would be the one to start the peace negotiations. His army was destroyed; the siege machines and his main assault forces lay in tatters in the cage of the defile. Any hope of conquering Ikonion seemed lost; the emperor, if we are to believe Choniates, was ready to abandon the army and run away alone, and only the clever advice of an unknown warrior saved the remnants of the imperial forces from total disaster.136 This whole episode was probably invented; the “simple soldier,” who comes to speak against the emperor in the military council (!) is clearly expressing the point of view of Choniates himself.137 All these things would naturally have turned the generals’ thoughts to the idea of negotiations, but Kilic Arslan also had a number of reasons to conclude peace as quickly as possible. The main problem was the Turcomans, who, although invited to fight on his side, were well-known as a chaotic force able to attack the sultan without a problem--his own forces, namely archers and gulyams--took part not only in the victorious beginning of the battle, but also in the slaughter which followed, and may have had many casualties.138 Another danger was the Byzantine regiments which had passed Myriokephalon at the beginning of the battle and were preserved in good condition until the evening. Both these factors would have been understood well by the experienced sultan, and he would have tried to conclude a peace. Another factor may have been the Seljuk nobles, whose influence Manuel had been known to buy even in times of peace.139

This is supported by Choniates, who, with all his ambiguous feelings towards Manuel, clearly states that Kilic Arslan was the first to send messengers.140 He writes that the emperor probably had a similar idea, but the Seljuks beat him to it. The same information is given in the letter of Manuel Komnenos.141 In contrast with this information stands the clear evidence of Michael the Syrian, who writes that Manuel was the initiator of the process, and that “messengers with torches were traveling all the night.”142 This message (seems more important to me than the question of who actually started the negotiations. They were initiated and supported by an armistice, which seems to have been in place during the night of 17 to 18 of September.143 Nothing is known about the conditions of these negotiations, but the result was negative. The reason, it seems to me, was simple; the Byzantine emperor still did not believe that he had been defeated, while Kilic Arslan was not so sure he had won such a victory. The Turcoman riders, riding around the Byzantine fortified camp, tried to force the Seljuks in the imperial army to leave the camp; I suppose they were not doing this at the order of Kilic Arslan, but rather against it.144

b. Concluding the peace

The next morning began with a Seljuk attack on the Byzantine camp. The response to this was simple. Regiments of Constantine Angelos went against the Seljuks, but without success. Constantine Macroducas with his army, “composed of eastern divisions,”145 also tried to fight the enemy, but achieved nothing. Now the situation was clear even for the emperor, who was unwilling to contemplate defeat. He was trapped on a waterless mountain completely encircled by his enemies. Then a new character appeared on the stage, not the sultan himself, but his vizier, Hasan Ibn Gabras, who, when the attacks stopped, came to see the emperor. Did Manuel ask him to come or did he come without an invitation? There is no answer to this question to be gleaned from the sources, but the interesting thing is that this episode is present only in Choniates’ account, while the message of Manuel’s letter is quite brief about this aspect and thus raises the suspicion that Manuel wanted to hide something.146

The ambassador came to the king, bowed, and gave him ritual presents, which consisted of a special horse and a long, double-edged sword. This gesture was reciprocated from the Byzantine side in the form of a purple imperial cloak, after which the conditions of peace were written down and the emperor signed them. The exact meaning of this gift exchange is not easy to establish, but the present of the emperor has some similar counterparts in the debated description of Alexius Komnenos’ expedition to Philomelium, where the Shainshah, after surrendering to the emperor, received a cloak as a symbolic present.147 The situation of the Seljuk presents after Myriokephalon is much more complex. From the point of Arabic culture, they were ambiguous; a sword and a horse were part of a set of “investiture presents” and symbolized rather equality than the former unequal “father and son” relation.148 At the same time, the presents are not clearly Arabic; the description of an investiture ceremony in Michael the Syrian’s Chronicle has almost no similarities with the situation at Myriokephalon.149 Probably the horse and sword had some symbolic meaning in the Seljuk symbolic system about which I cannot say much. In any case, the sultan probably had a good sense of humour--to present a hardy horse to a Manuel, famous for his love of heavy armor, after the defeat does not strike one as the action of a subordinate.

The conditions of the peace, which are quoted by several authors, can be construed to confirm this version. Along with the destruction of Dorylaion and Soublaion, which is probably the best-known result of the battle, there were other rather formal formulations such as “to serve against enemies” and “to return the captives.”150 I can even infer that the words said by Gabras to the emperor “from ear to ear” were also a sign of friendship. In a letter written a year after the battle of Myriokephalon, Manuel accused his Western “best friend,” Frederick Barbarossa, of a conspiracy with Kilic Arslan II and the German emperor had to explain this conspiracy, which, it seems, had only recently been revealed to Manuel.151



c. Conditions and Results of the Peace.

The Byzantine emperor agreed to the peace. A special condition was probably dedicated to the return of the rich baggage of the emperor, especially the holy relics, among which was a piece of the Holy Cross. 152 The conditions imposed on the aggressive emperor were not that hard; he only had to destroy two newly fortified strongholds on the borderlands.

But the main result was not in the peace conditions. The Byzantine crusade had failed. The siege weaponry, its main source of power, was destroyed and many brave and noble warriors lay dead in the field.153 At the same time, one can not speak about “the fundamental weakness” of the military policies of Manuel Komnenos, nor about “a turning point as great as the battle of Mantzikert.” The force of the empire were neither annihilated completely nor was their organization destroyed. In next few years they proved to be quite effective.154 To say it another way, from a military point of view the battle at Myriokephalon did not mark the end of the epoch or the end of the system. It was just the defeat of a large army – and probably nothing more.

The indirect consequences were quite important; at the peak of its power, the empire proved unable to help its allies in Palestine, defend its power in Cilicia, strengthen its international prestige,155 and strike back against its aggressive eastern neighbor.156 None of these three objectives was ever reached; in the year following Myriokephalon the battle of Hattin was the beginning of the end of the Crusader States of the Outremer. In the year 1197 the Armenian Prince Leo (Levon) proclaimed himself king of Armenia and was recognized with this title even by the empire. The situation with the Seljuks was, in a short term perspective, better. As was already noted above, Manuel’s generals achievedgreat success in the Valley of the Maiandros, where considerable Seljuk forces (I think that they were the Seljuks from the East invited by Kilic Arslan before the battle) were destroyed at the river crossing.157 Several years afterwards the emperor himself successfully defended Claudiopolis against the enemy.158 The division of the sultanate among Kilic Arslan II’s sons in 1192 decreased its power for a long time. In Byzantium the situation also worsened, and Kinnamos, writing some time after the death of Manuel, stated that the imperial hunt in Syria was something one could no longer dream about “in our days.” Myriokephalon, thus, was the end of the imperial ambitions in Eastern Mediterranean. Byzantium, having turned from its eastern neighbours was building up its relations with the West.




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